Our Memorial Day Weekend in Yellowstone

Posted by Carly Morgan

No travel for us this weekend for lots of reasons, but a few years ago we took Eva up to Yellowstone and had a fantastic long weekend in my favorite national park. Kyle had never been so we splurged a little and stayed at the fantastic Wort Hotel in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. I think we’ve been spoiled because I can’t imagine staying anywhere else now. The room was so comfortable and the silver dollar pancakes in the restaurant downstairs were absolutely fantastic. We didn’t see many families there so I’m not sure if it’s the most kid-friendly hotel in the area, but the portable crib they provided for tiny Eva (she was 15 months old at the time) was clean and in great condition.

As for the park, it’s one of those things you have to see at least once in your lifetime. Very humbling. Plus, even when it’s crowded there’s plenty to see and you don’t feel boxed in. Just don’t touch or harass the bison! We’ve had enough of those news stories, thank you very much.

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Flying With Baby – Tips from a New Momma

Posted by Kate Ardohain

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Over Easter, I made a trip out to Utah with my 15-week old baby, Steven, to see my extended family. Chris stayed in California to work on his thesis. Traveling alone with a baby was nerve-racking for me, as I am a huge planner and rarely go out of my comfort zone unless I am forced to, but being a new mom, I tend to exit that zone quite often now! After two successful flights there and back, I wanted to offer some tips and tricks that worked for me.

Pack Early – Pack and repack in the week preceding your travel. Both for you and baby. For me, it was helpful to go through my day making a mental checklist of the things I use for Steven. Once I was packed, I went through everything with Chris to ensure I wasn’t forgetting anything.

Carry On Bag – I am not a fan of diaper bags that sling over the shoulder and don’t offer a ton of usable space inside. For me, the best thing to use is a backpack. It offers a lot of space, a lot of pockets (big, medium, small and the smallest pocket in the front of the bag), and it has two straps to throw onto your back for easy carrying. In my carry-on, I was very strategic about what I wanted to carry.

  • Travel Diaper Bag – (Medium Pocket) We got ours at Target and it is basically a little fold up changing pad with pockets for diapers and wipes. I was able to pack up 6 diapers, a travel pack of wipes (our favorite are the Kirkland brand from Costco), and an extra outfit for Steven
  • Nursing Cover – (Biggest Pocket) The swaddling blankets we use are big, lightweight, and perfect for covering up when nursing (we use the Cuddle Bug Muslin Swaddle Blankets that are 47×47 inches… for the record, most swaddling blankets are much smaller than this)
  • Change of Clothes – (Medium Pocket) In a gallon size ziplock bag, I put an extra shirt for me, an extra jammie for Steven, a burp cloth, and a few more diapers
    Extras – (Small Pocket) Pacifier, gas drops, and a little toy that I had removed from Steven’s play mat that was small and flat, but that had a little rattle inside to hold his interest (keep in mind, he wasn’t even 4 months old, so it doesn’t take much)
  • Mommy Stuff – (Smallest Pocket) Travel stuff: wallet, phone charger, and sunglasses. Easily accessible and only the necessities
  • Extra Space – (Biggest Pocket) The last thing I needed to throw into the backpack was the carrier that I was using to transport Steven through the airport so the biggest pocket had only the nursing blanket and lots of extra room to shove the carrier in

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Baby Outfit – I know that a lot of the time, people tend to make trips with young babies due to family wanting to meet your new bundle. Because of this, I think it’s only natural to want to dress the baby in a super cute outfit to meet his extended family. Unfortunately, sometimes “cute” translates to lots of pieces that can be misplaced during travel. To make it easy for me, I dressed Steven in one of his “jammie” onesies: one piece, with one zipper and footies, covering him from neck to toes. No lost socks, rogue hoodies, or bunched up pants. Sidenote: I dressed in a comfortable outfit, just a t-shirt and workout pants with pockets so I didn’t have to worry about adjusting or things being too tight or uncomfortable.

Bib aka, The Attached Burp Rag – To go along with the outfit, I put a bib on Steven to travel with. It was one less loose item to fall onto a dirty airport floor. For the record, once I boarded the plane, I had a burp cloth tucked into the side of my backpack carryon to easily access and use during the flight when I was settled and not getting up to move around a ton.

Baby Carrier – I was super lucky and Carly had a car seat waiting in Utah so I didn’t have to use a car seat or stroller. I had Steven in my Ergo baby carrier to get through security and to walk easily through the airport with the ability to use both my hands. The great thing for me is that Steven tends to fall asleep easily when he’s in the carrier and I’m moving, which meant that I was the crazy, rocking, bouncing lady in the security line for 20 minutes, and I was okay with it. When I got to the scanner at security, I was able to walk through with Steven still in the carrier and just get checked on the other side. It was really simple and convenient. On this note: once I was through security and to my gate, I took him out of the carrier and played with him (keeping him awake) until we boarded to give myself the best possibility for a good sleep on the plane.

Diaper Change – For me, it was easier to find an empty corner in an empty gate to lay him (and all my supplies) down on his portable changing pad to get him cleaned up so I didn’t have to deal with people shoving and short-tempered in the airport bathrooms. I changed Steven right before I boarded the plane to ensure he was clean and dry when I sat down and I didn’t have to worry about an emergency change in the tiniest bathrooms known to man on the plane.

Boarding – There are different schools of thought on when to board with baby. Some say to take advantage of early boarding for people traveling with children under 2 and some say wait until the last minute to board to minimize static sitting time with your baby. For me, I wanted to board early to get situated and just keep Steven occupied for the 10 extra minutes until we left the gate and I could start nursing him. It worked because I didn’t feel rushed and I had everything ready to feed, burp, or play with accessible before everyone else boarded.

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Here’s the bottom line: flying with a baby takes a lot more of a lot of things. More time, more patience, more “stuff”. But taking the time to plan for the worst and hope for the best was extremely helpful for me. It turned out, once I started feeding Steven, he slept the whole flight out to Salt Lake and most of the flight back which made it really simple. It’s okay to stress about it. That just means that you care about things going well and there’s nothing wrong with that.

Why You Should Take Your Kids on Trips They Won’t Remember

Posted by Carly Morgan

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This photo is from Eva’s first trip to the coast. She’s little here – not quite a year – and I think this might have only been her second or third trip anywhere. She’s five now and she’s been through California on at least ten different vacations. She’s also traveled to Ohio, Florida, Colorado, Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Nevada, and she’s seen pretty much every part of our home state.

Calvin will be three this summer and he isn’t quite as well traveled as his sister (his trip to Moab doesn’t count since he was a fetus) but he’s still been to almost every state that she has and he does have all the American Disney parks under his belt. And if I pull him in here now and grill him on which rides he liked the best and how the different resorts compared, he’s going to give me the blankest of blank looks.

It’s hard to travel with kids. They require so much stuff and after they turn two you can’t even fly them for free. Plus, you have to feed them (no easy task with our allergy kid) and you can’t stay in dive motels when you’re traveling as a family. Your schedule is also all tied up when you have your kids with you, since you have to pick activities they’d be interested in and figure out how to get everyone around in one piece.

Even so…

I love traveling with our kids. Not only do I hate to take trips without them (even our amazing parents-only WDW trip for Disney Social Media Moms), I actually want to travel more now that our family is larger. There are so many things I want to share with them and I love revisiting places I’ve been before because watching my kids see everything for the first time is exciting. That being said, is it worth it to take your kid to a museum or expensive theme park or major destination if (A) they aren’t going to remember it because they’re too little and (B) you don’t necessarily have the money to take everyone to Walt Disney World (or wherever) every year?

I say YES for these 5 reasons:

1 – Even infants can get joy out of new places, experiences, foods, etc. It’s so fun as a parent to be there for that happiness!

2 – Having to adapt to different places or unusual situations is really good for kids. Kyle and I have a constant back and forth about whether it’s mean to make the kids take as many long car rides as they’ve taken, but I’m starting to win the argument because the kids are now champs at being in the car for ten hours or more at a time without blinking an eye or feeling like they’re having to endure something awful.

3 – The sooner you get used to traveling with strollers, diapers, and car seats in tow, the less overwhelming it will be. Now that we have a cross-country trip under our belt, I’m actually a lot more confident about taking the kids out of the country, even with them being as little as they are. (Well, we might start with Canada…)

4 – Tomorrow is not promised. I’m not going to get all dark and morbid here, but there are lots of things that can happen to disrupt travel plans if you make them too far into the future (who saw the Zika virus coming?).

5 – Your kids will remember more than you think. Eva doesn’t remember dipping her toes into the sand on that first day we took her to the beach, but she’s seen the photos and knows that she was there. She also remembers an amazing amount of experiences from our WDW trip, considering she was only three, and it’s probably because we have so many photos and videos for her to look over. It’s much easier to record vacation memories now than it ever was so it won’t surprise me if even Calvin is able to hang on to a couple of concrete moments from his two year old trips.

Personally, I have tons of vacation memories from when I was younger and my parents didn’t even take that many photos (comparatively speaking). We had no video camera, no smartphones, and no PhotoPass photographers, but I have vivid memories of trips I took when I was three, four, and five years old. Some are so strong than when I went back to those places later on, I was able to navigate the area without help. Definitely not vacation funds wasted because I was too little!

So, any family trips this year? I’ll be filling you in on our travel plans soon…

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The Tulip Festival and Our Most Convenient Stroller Yet

Posted by Carly Morgan

This post was sponsored by @GBChildUsa as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central. I received the gb Pockit to facilitate my review.

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If you’re in Utah, here’s your reminder that the tulip festival starts at Thanksgiving Point this weekend. It’s a season highlight for us since tulips are my favorite flower and the kids love running around the different areas. We actually went down there last weekend to get a sneak peek, since last year’s tulip festival visit was a little hot and crowded. There were a fair amount of flowers that hadn’t quite bloomed yet, but we still saw plenty of color and got our spring fix.

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Our kids are at a little bit of an awkward age for family outings because they’re too big to be carried and too little to walk forever without getting tired, but they also don’t want to be strapped into a stroller. Inevitably, this means that my husband becomes this pack mule that drags them around.

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For this reason, I’ve been keeping our stroller in the back of our car but it’s a pain because (A) it’s large enough that it takes up 80% of the trunk and (B) it’s really for smaller kids so Calvin can’t get in and out of it easily and it’s too bulky for tight areas like gift shops. As a result, we really have to be banking on the fact that the kids are going to fall apart before we haul it out of the car. For this reason, I was really excited to see the demo for the gb Pockit when I was at the ABC Kids Expo this past fall. You might remember this awesome Instagram video:

 

 

The gb Pockit stroller folds up so small that you can slip it into a backpack but it’s still a full-size stroller ready to handle even the most sulky and insistent “I’m not tired!” two year old out there.

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I’m so happy to finally have one of these! This is our ninth (!!!) stroller since we had Eva. That might seem like an insane number, but it’s pretty hard to find one that fits our life! The first couple that we had were too short (we’re both about 6 feet tall) and then the next two were infant-pram models that were too bulky and just weren’t worth the hassle of getting them out. Then we got the single jogging stroller and the double jogging stroller (both of which were too big to fit in the car so we were jogging from home if we wanted to use them) and our double stroller (nice but too wide for everyday use) and our sit-and-stand convertible (the one that’s been taking up our trunk space for the last year). It’s nice to finally have one that doesn’t take up too much space, isn’t hard to carry if the kids aren’t using it, and gives them a break when they need to take a rest.

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The fold is easy (keeping the front wheels locked is key) and you just unclip it and shake it out to make it pop up into a stroller. It definitely has a lighter feel to it when you’re pushing (especially over bumpy terrain) so that took some getting used to. Also, there’s a small compartment under the stroller where we threw a water bottle and some sunglasses, but my bag wouldn’t fit under there so I looped it around the handles instead. Some stroller clips would help this, but (like most umbrella strollers) it will tip backward if you have any weight on the handles and there isn’t a child sitting down. Then again, your bag might be lighter than mine since I always travel with my DSLR camera, snacks for the kids, and all of Eva’s meds.

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Eva is a little small for five years old, so you can take the fact that she fits in here with a grain of salt BUT she was very happy to snuggle in out of the rain when it started to sprinkle. The little rain guard kept her dry (along with the fact that she stole my cardigan) and her brother was equally happy to give up his seat so he could get all soggy in the drizzle.

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I was a little worried about taking the stroller out on such a “big” outing, especially after the grounds started to get muddy and we were going over lots of hills and gravel patches, but we didn’t have any issues. It was a good test, too, since we’re traveling a lot this summer and now I won’t have to worry about choosing between packing enough clothes for everyone or taking a stroller so we don’t end up skipping outings that seem too daunting for the kids.

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If anything, we actually thought about getting a second and keeping them both in front of the kids’ car seats on the floors so they could each have one, since space wouldn’t be an issue. I don’t think we will, just because Eva is hitting that upper cusp of not needing a stroller any more, but I might get one for my parents to keep since they could have it in their trunk and not even notice. Nothing worse than being caught without a stroller when you need one!

You can pick up the gb Pockit stroller at Babies R Us.

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Salt Lake City Smog and Our Escape to Boulder, CO

Posted by Carly Morgan

Salt Lake City is at an air disadvantage. Since the city is located in a valley surrounded by mountains, we have a weird phenomenon called inversion which creates disgusting clouds of smog at different times of the year. The only way to clear it out is a good rain or snow storm, but since we’re located in a desert we occasionally go a week or so with the poison in the air just building up and building up.

For the Morgans, that means that eventually we’re breaking out the masks and staying inside all day:

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This past week was so bad that our air quality turned red for days on end and the hospitals filled up with people who were getting sick from the air. As the mom of an asthmatic, I was particularly worried (although, to be fair, I wasn’t keen on the fact that any of us were breathing that crud) so we finally packed up and left the city on Friday.

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We are incredibly lucky to be able to do this. We have flexible jobs, a great car, and friends in other states who don’t mind when we give them less than 24 hours notice that they’re going to be having some house guests. It makes me so frustrated to think about all of the families who were just stuck in the bad air praying for rain and the parents who took their kids to the hospital for oxygen treatments because our air doesn’t have enough air. Salt Lake can’t keep ignoring this problem.

As for us, our trip raised some questions. We like living in Salt Lake, but being forced out of the city by smog isn’t something we’re looking forward to as the air keeps getting worse. It’s scary to think we might be uprooting and moving on, but…you know…air. We need air.

In the meantime, here are some photos of our spontaneous visit to Boulder, CO, and our long weekend with our friends Jed and Steve.

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